I am a Dick - Josh Howie interview
The comedian tells us, in his own words, why he's a dick
This article is from 2011.
I am a dick. This was something I had to finally embrace. When I talked to comic friends of mine, where I’m just being me and letting my guard down, I got sick of them saying, ‘stop with the jokey-jokes, the thing that is funny about you is that you’re a dick’. And I finally had to listen to that advice, and embracing it is very liberating. I’ve always known I was a dick, but finally I can let the world in to my pain.
My first show was about being raised in a way by my mum that I didn’t really want and then trying to get control of that, while last year’s show was about living with my grandma, which was a hellish experience. This one is about what happens when those things inform a character and send that person into the world with a warped view. Essentially, it’s me getting into trouble all the time and trying to educate myself.
Being a ‘dick’ is not about intent, you can’t prevent yourself being one, it’s almost in your genes. Whereas being an ‘arsehole’ is going out of your way to be that person, and being a ‘twat’ is like being a dick but even more so; I just don’t know how twats get anything done in their life.
I’m a functioning dick: I’ve got married, have a kid and a career that I love; I’m getting away with it. But at inopportune moments, that aspect of who I am will emerge and something funny will happen. I haven’t been punched in the face but it’s gotten close. In the moment, I can’t prevent myself; it’s not as though I’m thinking ‘this is hilarious, this will be a funny story’, but there is an awareness of me being a dick. Where other people might let things go, my inclination at the time is to see something through to its bitter end.
One of the stories in the show is about me on a running machine at the gym and a very massive guy starts turning over the TV channels in front of me. The question is, do you challenge this person based on his physical size? There was also a racial element because he was black, but would it have been more racist not to have said something? I had to stand up for myself as a human being. Other people might choose not to go down that road, but I had to call this person on it, and then it got weird …
Situations like that keep happening to me with an alarming regularity where I’m ranting and being passionate about stupid shit. But even though it’s quite specific about things that have happened to me, anybody should be able to relate to awkwardness. Maybe they haven’t been on a running machine, but they’ve certainly been in situations where they’ve felt ignored and wanted to call someone on it.
I’m a massive fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm and what Larry David says is these are the things that he didn’t say in situations but that he wished he’d said. The difference with me is that, unfortunately, I have done all these things that are in the show, because I don’t have the imagination to tell a story; my brain doesn’t function that way. I wished some things hadn’t happened, but they did and I’m going to use them for my own comedic ends. What I think I’m good at is dissecting the things that I fuck up in and making the bad things that have happened to me funny.
I write a weekly column for Blokely so something awkward really has to happen to me once a week. And somehow by the Monday deadline, something has usually happened to me over the weekend that makes me think: ‘Good, I made a dick out of myself, I can write that up.’ Once every ten days I’ll get myself into a pickle that leaves me being a dick. The show is the best of these awkward moments.
Josh Howie: I Am a Dick, The Stand V, 558 7272, 5–28 Aug (not 15), 6.20pm, £9 (£8). Preview 4 Aug, 1.40pm, £8 (£7).